BY BRIAN BYRNE
IT’S a sign of the number of electrified cars that I’m getting these days that I have had a dedicated power point installed at my front door so I can hook them up for charging. Not a wallbox, which would represent an unwarranted investment for me, but a 13A wired independently and directly to the house system.
Why is that important? It means that while it would take ages to fully charge a pure electric car from empty from such a point, I nevertheless can get a good sense of how it works in everyday use. Electric cars work best when plugged in whenever not being driven.
So, given my normal use of a car from my home, I found that I could almost always leave with a full ‘tank’ of charge each morning, not having to worry about range for the day. Even the 13A link topped the Honda e off in a couple of hours or so, not even needing an overnight, as I had rarely used even half of the battery’s charge.
The Honda e has been designed from the first as an urban personal transport option, with the ‘up to 220kms’ rated range and the battery size built around that concept. When every other maker has been upping range to at least 350kms, that might seem strange.
But in an urban use nothing like that extended range would be required, ever. As I have noted before, in ‘fuelling’ terms, we use an electric car quite differently to an ordinary ICE-powered one.
The retro square and practical shape, with design elements that bring it closer to tomorrow, makes it a quite charming small car. It smiles, you might say, and makes you smile.
The interior has its own tilt at Starship Enterprise, with a digital screen which runs the full width of the dashboard, each end being screens linked to cameras on the doors instead of mirrors. It is amazing how quickly one gets used to non-mirrors. The information on the dashboard itself is very customisable, with a sometimes bewildering range of options. But basically you can have, for instance, navigation in one area, radio in the other, and lots of virtual buttons to move screens around.
A problem, though — whatever you chose for the left side was actually too far from the driver’s eye to comfortably work with. Living with the system very quickly brought home the fact that there is an ergonomic limit to the practical width of infotainment screens, and they shouldn’t extend the full car width.
The car comes with the very latest in driver assist systems. Comfort details are also well in evidence, especially the seat heaters which at this time of the year we now appreciate so much (and which are the most economical way of keeping warm in an electric vehicle).
For me and my passenger the front seats offered plenty of room, though because of the standard glass roof in front, with retractable cover, the rear headroom isn’t quite enough for taller people. Still, the Honda e is not aimed at family transport, rather for urban singles and couples in any age bracket.
I found a full charge represented 178kms, but in normal use that would be extended by the stop-go regeneration which would be typical in town driving. But I also had the car in our coldest snap so far, and when I switched on in sub-zero conditions that range immediately slipped down to a nominal 130kms.
In practice, though, my various trips to neighbouring towns showed that, even in those cold days, the real range was going to be much closer to the original 170kms-ish. More than adequate.
The weather showed one other issue. The charging point is at the front of the bonnet, flat to the sky, and when the ‘gun’ is plugged in, the charging well is open to rain and snow. Snow I had to dig out on one of the mornings before I could unplug. I’d be coming up with some kind of cover to deal with this.
Otherwise, the Honda e did exactly what I expected, and more or less what Honda promised. Could be argued it’s a little expensive for the size, but there’s a lot of good stuff that comes with the cost.
What I like: Small can be beautiful, and silent.
Price: From €29,900.